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The Leopold Center is a research and education center on the campus of Iowa State University created to identify and reduce negative environmental and social impacts of farming and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources. The Center's work is focused in these initiatives - ecological systems research, marketing and food systems research, policy research and cross-cutting research that bridges all areas (water, energy, soil and alternative farming systems).
Acres enrolled in the USDA's Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) increased this past year. This program pays farmers over five years to maintain or expand conservation practices on their land, such as cover crops, rotational grazing and buffer strips. According to analysis by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), more than 7,600 farmers enrolled more than 9.5 million acres in CSP during fiscal year 2014. The average payment was about $14.60 per acre, or about $700 million over the life of the CSP contract. Iowa was sixth in the number of new CSP contracts (~425). No details are available on 2015 CSP enrollment that was in the 2014 Farm Bill. More on the NSAC blog
In Iowa, Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey reports that 2,382 farmers used state cost-share funds to install about $22 million in conservation practices during fiscal year 2014. Nearly two-thirds was for terraces, 11 percent for grade stabilization structures, 9 percent for grassed waters, 7 percent for water and sediment control and 2 percent for other practices. The balance (13 percent) supported management practices such as cover crops, no-till and strip-till. Get details on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship website. [Photo by USDA Nautral Resources Conservation Service]